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Raising children as vegans ‘unethical’, says professor


Warning: This post was published more than 12 years ago.

I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might have changed in the 12 years since I wrote this post.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Many thanks for your understanding.

A leading US nutritionist today claimed that vegetarian and vegan parents are damaging their children’s health by denying them meat.

This is a bizarre claim in the first place, but when you look at the research Lindsay Allen bases her claims on, it becomes close to comical:

Prof Allen conducted a study of impoverished children in Kenya, and found that adding as little as two spoonfuls of meat a day to their starch-based diets dramatically improved muscle development and mental skills.

The African study involved 544 children in Kenya, typically aged around seven, whose diet mainly consisted of starchy, low-nutrition corn and bean staples lacking these micronutrients. Over a period of two years, one group of the children was given a daily supplement of two ounces of meat – equivalent to roughly two spoonfuls of mince.

Two other groups received either a cup of milk a day or an oil supplement containing the same amount of energy. The diet of a fourth group was left unaltered.

The changes seen in the children given the meat, and to a lesser extent the milk or oil, were dramatic.

And from this, she’s deduced that

There’s absolutely no question that it’s unethical for parents to bring up their children as strict vegans

See what she did there? She extrapolated data relating to poor children in Kenya to apply to the whole world. Does she not think that, perhaps, parents of children in developed countries may have better access to supplements, which will prevent their children from missing the nutritional value provided by meat? Does her magically extrapolated study account for this? No, because the substitutes given just contained “the same amount of energy”.

And as we progress from the sublime to the ridiculous, Sir Paul McCartney has this to contribute:

From my own point of view, it has been a good thing for me and my children, who are no shorter than other children.

Whilst it’s good to know that Sir Paul McCartney’s children aren’t of short stature, I haven’t read any claims by our Prof that children would be shorter.

I’m not sure what particular axe the Prof has to grind, but this is just bad science at it’s most disturbing and strange.

This 372nd post was filed under: News and Comment.

More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th November 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 5th October 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd September 2017)

A reason for Americans to feel smug (published 3rd April 2005)

Photo-a-day 200: Scratch (published 18th July 2012)

Ch-ch-changes! (published 12th February 2007)

Photo-a-day 172: Frustrating forms (published 20th June 2012)

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